By Zack Lutz, highschoogle columnist/contributor, Hamonton High School, New Jersey
Perhaps some of the most soulful music ever made is not just gospel, not R&B, but Bluegrass. With all due respect, I love Gospel, and R&B, associated acts like Jill Scott really get me vibin’ on a boring day. Bluegrass though, is incredibly passionate music that tells a story that puts every listener in the shoes of a struggling hitch hiker, a former cocaine abuser, or a soldier of Vietnam taken from his home of Alabama.
Have no fear though, it’s not music that established a genre based off of whining and self-pity (Cue various emo bands), but it’s a genre that tells stories of the everyday life/struggles/pleasures immigrants from Scotland, Ireland, and even Wales encountered in Appalachian America in the 18th century. It is absolutely folk music, that can either have you stomping your boots, and wanting to get up and party, or music that you would expect to hear at night high up in the Appalachia.
It’s really great stuff though, the jazz influence is prevalent in most bluegrass, with many “5-1″ bass lines being heard, and if you listen to old Jelly Roll Morton/Dixieland style jazz stomps, the influence is HEAVY.
This week, I’m going to be covering Old Crow Medicine show, one of the most well known, skilled bluegrass bands ever.
You, yeah you! Find some boots, because a stomp is not a stomp without some cool boots.
They were formed in 1998 by Ketch Secor, and Critter Fuqua (Don’t you love the south?), and while they play many pre-WWII folk and blues songs, they also perform EXCELLENT originals that you really feel the passion in. None, none of their songs sound like the typical contract fillers that took 15 minutes to write while reading various editions of Rolling Stone/abusing hard drugs.
Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) definitely stretches the creative envelope a bit in their originals. Big Time in the Jungle has simple lyrics, but they are impressively evocative…when I first heard it, and still when I listen even, there are parts that give me chills, I feel like I can hear the dust of the rice paddies stinging my eyes, and then I come back to reality, and I realize I just listened to real music.
Music should do that for you, take you on a journey. Now I’m not here to tell you what to listen to, because that’s the beauty of it, but find music that brings you to a state of utter bliss, like that. Chills, and an uncontrollable smile are common symptoms.
Thankfully, OCMS is still around. I think there was a scare there when people were afraid they were going to break up, but I believe all is well now, correct me if I’m wrong!
“Wagon Wheel” is the song that really personifies the group, OCMS and “Wagon Wheel” go hand in hand. It was originally an unfinished Bob Dylan song that Ketch had heard in his teenage years, and he finished it, and copyrighted in 2003.
You’ve been living 9 years without this brilliance!!
“In a way,” Secor says: “it’s taken something like 85 years to get completed” It’s a beautiful song, and really takes you somewhere nice. Apparently it did for critics too! Their recording of “Wagon Wheel” was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in November 2011.
Below, I’ll put some of my favorite OCMS songs, so you can get stomping. Enjoy!